Meet the Boss: Phathizwe Malinga, managing director, SqwidNet

Phathizwe Malinga

1. What part of your job keeps you awake at night?

Traction. I think about whether we are getting to the people who stand to benefit from our technology the most in time. For our company, that results in revenue, but for our customers that results in efficiency gains and growth opportunities.

2. Name three traits required to survive in this role.

I think you need an abundance of humility, curiosity and optimism. Humility reminds me that I am here to serve. Curiosity reminds me that I don’t know more than I know. And optimism reminds me to constantly seek out the risks, because how we “solve” them is how we create our desired future.

3. What is the biggest misconception about your job?

That it’s a technical job. Sure, you must have technical proficiency, but that’s not what this job requires. This job requires you to articulate a vision that is captivating to the world: one that cannot be done by one man, and then, once articulated, one man cannot do without. Then it is about inspiring people towards creating that desired future, being inspired right back, and despite the demands of “everydayness”, staying on mission, because we cannot do without it.

4. Who has had the greatest impact on your career?

I have worked for many managers and I have at least one trait today that comes from every single one. Each of these traits, I have adopted because of how much better I believe they make me. I value them all. If pressed for one, though, it would have to be my once-manager, now friend, by the name of Walied Allie. He pushes me to be better, by example.

5. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

It’s from a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald. “The sign of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing views and retain the ability to function.” A lot of the problems we are faced with in the world are becoming so complex, some of them feel dark and depressing, and the solutions presented don’t really feel like solutions, but trade-offs. It’s easy to let fear or over-analysis cripple us into inaction. I like this quote because it reminds me to not just keep thinking but to also keep doing, to keep functioning.

6. The top reason for your professional success?

Luck. And like Gary Player, the more I practice, the luckier I seem to get. Professional means at least two things: One, you have an ability that you obsessively try to master through lots of practice, and Two, someone pays you for that ability (sees value). The workplace professional is no different to the sports professional. Practice a lot.

7. How do you relax?

I either run or do yoga. In both activities, I can work on my physical health and mental health and that’s what I like about the two. An hour catching up on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show is also a welcome relief.

8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?

I’m an early bird. I’m up at 4am and I’m either at my desk at 6am, or at 8am. 8am is if I decide to exercise first.

9. Your favourite job interview question?

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hahaha. It’s become such a joke, that when you get that question you know that your interviewer has a sense of humour. I like people with a sense of humour.

10. The biggest perk of your job?

It would have to be the opportunity to meet so many CEOs and entrepreneurs and captains of industry. Being an IoT connectivity company means that our products stand to drive innovation in every sector and industry, so I’m blessed to get to sit with these thought leaders and hear how they plan to improve our lives.

The SqwidNet network offers low-cost access to IoT solutions and operators in South Africa.